The Oklahoma City Thunder are making it rain this summer. As the headliner, Oklahoma City came to a massive, four-year deal to re-sign Paul George and, from there, the Thunder also locked Jerami Grant up for three years at considerable money. With those two signed to healthy contracts, the Thunder are staring a nine-figure tax bill in the face, but it hasn’t stopped them from going after more free agents.
On Monday, yet another intriguing transaction came to light, as Shams Charania of Yahoo reported that free agent big man Nerlens Noel will be joining the Thunder on a two-year deal that includes a second-year player option.
Noel is an intriguing addition for the Thunder, particularly if the team can unlock some of his considerable upside that was lost during the late stages of his time in Philadelphia and Dallas. The Thunder are on track for the largest payroll in NBA history if they elect to keep their current roster in tact, but Noel is a minimum signing so he won’t hurt too much with their already ridiculous tax sheet.
Buzz surrounding potential moves to off-load salary in the form of Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Patterson, Alex Abrines, and Kyle Singler already existed but the noise could intensify as a result of Noel’s contract. In short, the Thunder will be in a very interesting position, both with regard to the salary cap and with a defensive rotation headlined by Steven Adams and Andre Roberson that could be devastating on the that end of the floor.
For Noel, he gets the chance to rehab his image around the league after seeing his value get wiped almost completely back to zero in Dallas. A good season off the bench in OKC could provide him reason to pass on opting in next season and hit the market again in 2019 with real prospects for a longterm contract.